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What really matters for an effective MSP partnership?

To forge an effective partnership with a managed service provider (MSP), a small to medium-sized business (SMB) must choose a partner that has the knowledge, ability, and communication skills to become a true extension of its IT department. An MSP is more than an IT maintenance crew, it’s a part of your operations team that needs to solve problems proactively.

Complete honesty, even when it hurts

An effective MSP partner must above all, be honest—even blunt at times. Tough topics—such as the need to step up the budget for an upgrade—aren’t always easy to approach with company leaders. But in the IT world, tough talk is often exactly what a company needs for a solution that will save them more money, trouble and time in the long run.

As you shop around for an honest, knowledgeable MSP partner, look for one who provides you with a thoughtful, innovative critique of your current configuration. A quality MSP partner will tell you the “why” behind each recommendation. Don’t mistake bluster for knowledge and innovation.

Experience with growing SMBs

Whether you’re a startup or a business who wants to grow, you need an MSP partner with experience solving the IT problems of businesses like yours, including its security challenges. Whether through managed services, upgrade projects or even assistance with finding IT staff, you want an MSP that has supported businesses in their growth strategies.

So, SMBs need an MSP partner that can handle a wide range of IT services. As you shop for an MSP, keep in mind that you’re looking for a partner who will become as invested in your success as you are—and has the skills, expertise and track record to prove it.

Understanding of your business

Often, says CIO senior writer Thor Olavsrud, CIOs bend to pressure from the bean counters and hire a bargain-basement MSP just to cover the basics. Instead, he advises, choose a partner that understands your business and its strategic goals.

Ideally, says Olavsrud, you need an MSP that takes a comprehensive approach to your IT services. Choose well, he says, and you can unleash your internal IT team for “more strategic projects.” With such a partner, both your internal team and the MSP will work smoothly together to accomplish your company’s goals.

To have these goals foremost at every turn, your MSP must have a deep understanding of your business. As you shop, then, look for an MSP that demonstrates a grasp of your company, its goals, and its culture. Look for a provider with a solid track record with other companies—and the testimonials to prove it. 

Technology expertise with advanced services

Some low-cost MSPs specialize in a specific domain, such as customer relationship management (CRM) or email hosting. To have an effective partnership, Olavsrud points out, you need to look for an MSP that can tackle all the advanced services you may require, such as cloud infrastructure management, disaster recovery, and strategic IT consulting.

Find an MSP that can handle whatever challenge you face, and you can turn your internal team’s attention to strategic projects like migration planning or custom app development. As you shop around for MSP providers, make sure that they have the specialized expertise to shore up your more advanced IT needs as well.

The right MSP will help you streamline processes and performance, making your company leaner and more efficient. Look for an MSP that has freed the hands of their clients’ internal teams to focus on special projects. Look for proven results, like increased revenue and productivity, that the MSP has helped its clients achieve.

With an effective MSP partnership, your business can look forward to years of growth. Leverage your MSP partner’s knowledge, together with your internal team’s, and your business will be well equipped and prepared to rise to the top of its industry.